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Chemistry International
Vol. 23, No.5
September 2001


Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) in Direct Measurements of Colloidal Forces

IUPAC has approved a new project to recommend (1) procedures for measurement of inter-particle distance dependence of colloidal force data using the atomic force microscope (AFM) colloid probe technique, and (2) methods by which force-distance data can be compared with existing models of inter-particle forces.

The colloid probe AFM technique is a promising new method to determine the interactions between colloidal bodies. The technique is based on the general AFM, and this equipment is, in principle, available for many research groups (i.e., it is not excessively expensive). In order to avoid confusion in the literature about the use of AFM equipment for colloid stability measurements (and, consequently, about the interpretation of results), recommendations for the use of this equipment for this type of measurement are needed. The project includes the following components:

  • principles of atomic force microscopy
  • attachment of colloidal probe to cantilever
  • force measurement
  • distance separation
  • determination of spring constant
  • determination of colloid probe radius
  • interaction geometry• inter-particle forces
  • non-deformable and deformable surfaces
  • symmetric and asymmetric interactions

Comments from the chemistry community are welcome and should be addressed to the project coordinator, Prof. John Ralston, Ian Wark Research Institute, University of South Australia, The Levels, South Australia 5095, Australia; Tel.: +61 8 8302 3066; Fax: +61 8 8302 3683; E-mail: [email protected].

See for project description and update.



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